The industry's record from a scientific viewpoint regarding food
safety has been amazing. Probably nothing illustrates that more clearly
than the recent meat recalls for E. coli. It was almost
surprising to hear about a problem, yet it wasn't that many years ago
when we were suffering through what was called "the summer of E.
BSE is another example where the industry has done an amazing job of
preventing a major problem. However, the best way to gauge consumer
perceptions of food safety is to have them evaluate their impression of
the integrity of the industry, and its direct suppliers.
Still, we find ourselves yet again having an improper and illegal
shipment of beef being sent to South Korea. In Japan one of its own
companies, Meat Hope, has created a huge controversy by putting pork
into a key beef product, because beef supplies had gotten tight.
Sure, everyone intuitively understands just how important food safety is
to our ability to be able to market our product but, as is always the
case when each individual action is so very miniscule and results are
based on the aggregate, it's easy for individuals to take a short cut
here and there. Every bobble along the way reduces our credibility.
It's well understood that food safety is something that can never be
fully achieved, but our future lies in our customers trusting us to do
everything possible to ensure their safety. That rests on their belief
that we will continue to act with the utmost integrity. We can't afford
too many weeks like the last several. Our industry rests on the
foundation of consumer confidence.
-- Troy Marshall
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replacement females often top auctions by selling for $50-$100 per head
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The House released its mockups of the new farm bill last week. These
are intended as a starting point for the upcoming debate. Not
surprising, there was very little revolutionary in the new bill, much to
the consternation of both the proponents and opponents of American ag.
The real change this time around is the number of non-ag groups involved
in the farm bill. From animal welfare to environmental groups to
consumer advocate groups, they're all trying to enact parts of their
agenda through the upcoming farm bill. There also is pressure from
fiscal conservatives, free-market advocates and from the social liberals
who want more government dollars directed toward other activities. Of
course, there's the renewable energy issue, as well.
There are few signs of any substantive change compared to the last farm
bill, except that significantly fewer dollars are available this time
around. Thus, priorities will be a key. The beef industry will have to
be much more vocal to be effective in the formation of the upcoming farm
Yes, the beef industry is still very much a peripheral audience as we
historically don't receive direct subsidy payments, but there will be
the typical array of measures relative to marketing and competition.
-- Troy Marshall
The run-up to the scheduled implementation of country-of-origin
labeling (COOL) has drawn a bit more heated rhetoric recently. Two weeks
ago, the American Meat Institute and the Food Marketing Institute sent
letters detailing the verifiable auditable paper trails, indemnification
of liability and the like that they will be demanding from suppliers.
While this is nothing new, it sparked some reaction because people are
beginning to realize that the implementation date is just around the
corner -- September 2008.
Click here to read more of this story by Troy Marshall
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The animal welfare issue is only going to get bigger in the minds of
the consumers. When the Humane Society of the U.S. begins to get
additional financing from Microsoft that should be a red flag.
The whole organic, natural, health aspect of the food-marketing
environment is growing at a mind-boggling rate. In fact, our college
intern this spring wouldn't drink anything but organic juice. My
eight-year-old child asked me recently whether natural and organic foods
are healthier than 'typical' foods.
With mandatory COOL around the corner, everyone might as well source and
age verify their cattle to reap some of the benefits and to offset
costs. Beef Quality Assurance is likely just the opening stanza in what
promises to be a whole movement on the animal welfare front as well. It
probably makes sense to begin the documentation so one can verify their
management as well.
-- Troy Marshall
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced
that killed anaplasmosis vaccine is again available to California cattle
The California Cattlemen's Association sent an official request to the
CDFA offering its assistance in overcoming state and federal licensing
requirements that made the vaccine unavailable. Follow-up calls to state
and federal officials led to an agreement that made the experimental
vaccine available to producers.
Anaplasmosis is a blood disease that causes severe anemia and death in
cattle. The disease is transmitted by ticks; the mild and moist winter
of 2006 resulted in an increase in tick populations in California and a
resulting increase in the number of anaplasmosis cases.
For info on obtaining the vaccine, contact the California Cattlemen's
Association at 916-444-0845 or log on to www.calcattlemen.org.
-- Burt Rutherford
Take the Producer Poll!
Results from last week's poll:
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- Sale barn -- 61.70%
- Other -- 21.28%
- Video auction -- 8.51%
- Traditional order-buyer -- 8.51%
When will spring-born calves receive their first vaccinations?
Stay tuned next week for the poll results and a new question.
- 3-4 weeks pre-weaning
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Five years and 11,000 badgers later, a British study group has
determined that killing badgers isn't an effective recipe for stemming
bovine tuberculosis (TB) in Great Britain.
The team of scientists from Britain's top universities concluded that
although badgers contribute to cattle TB, only 14 new cases of TB were
prevented in herds, despite five years of culling that removed about 73%
of the badgers in a 1,000-sq.-km area. The study group advised that
substantial reductions in TB can be achieved by improving cattle-based
control measures, such as controlling and monitoring cattle movements,
strategic testing, quarantine of purchased cattle, and whole-herd
depopulation of chronically affected herds, among other measures.
Trevor Lawson, spokesperson for the Badger Trust, likened killing
badgers to "using a sledgehammer to crack a nut." A less brutish
approach to the small role played by badgers in TB transmission is to
utilize electric fencing around farm buildings, which might well yield
greater benefits at a fraction of the cost, he says.
The Food Marketing Institute (FMI), a national organization
representing retailers, sent a letter recently to seven ag groups
detailing the steps it is suggesting to retailers that they adopt
regarding country-of-origin-related info from meat suppliers. The letter
was sent in response to efforts throughout the food-marketing chain to
prepare for implementation of country-of-origin labeling (COOL)
beginning Sept. 30, 2008. Under the COOL legislation passed as part of
the 2002 farm bill, retailers are required to provide COOL information
for specified beef, pork and lamb products.
FMI suggests retailers require information from their suppliers in four
areas -- signage, records, audits and indemnification. FMI recommends
that suppliers provide the signage, in the form of stickers or placards,
with the verified origin information for the product. It also recommends
suppliers provide records proving origin with each shipment, and says
that retailers should require the results of all COOL-related audits. It
also proposes that retailers require indemnification from suppliers for
any fines and any other costs, including attorney's fees, that the
retailer may incur as a result of the country-of-origin info the
supplier provides or fails to provide.
The FMI letter was sent to the American Farm Bureau Federation, American
Meat Institute (AMI), National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National
Farmers Union, National Meat Association, National Pork Producers
Council and R-CALF.
Following FMI's letter, AMI, an organization representing packers, sent
a similar letter to 97 producer groups detailing what it is telling its
members about how they will need to comply with the impending law and
satisfy retail customers. AMI said packers should demand verified
documentation of where the livestock purchased were born and raised and
an affidavit or declaration with each load of livestock purchases
stating that there is a verifiable audit trail in place that identifies
where the livestock in each load were born and raised. AMI also advised
its members to ask producers to provide access to records so the packer
can perform audits as necessary to satisfy retail customers and to
indemnify the packer for liability should inaccurate information be
provided to the packer.
R-CALF reacted angrily to AMI's letter, demanding AMI rescind its
suggestions and threatening to file complaints with USDA's Grain
Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) against AMI and
any packer that follows AMI's recommendations. However, AMI said it
stands by its guidance to meat packers.
"Given the fact that animals born now will be subject to mandatory COOL,
we thought it was wise to begin preparing," said Mark Dopp, AMI senior
vice president of regulatory affairs and general counsel. "We stand by
our letter and we will not rescind it because there is no reason to do
so. Complex new obligations will be imposed upon us and if we are to
comply, we need information from producers. Those who support the law
can't avoid their obligations to provide us with information we need to
-- Burt Rutherford
This year Camp Cooley Ranch celebrates 20 years of
ultrasound performance in our Brangus herd. From this work results some
of the most powerful, performance proven Brangus, Angus and Charolais
bulls to ever sell at Camp Cooley. Your search for Quality in
Volume begins and ends at Camp Cooley Ranch. Give us a call or
stop by for a visit!
"Shocked" is how the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers
Association (TSCRA) reacted to Gov. Rick Perry's veto of H.B. 2006, a
bill designed to protect private landowners from condemnation of land by
Reportedly, the veto resulted from an amendment added to the bill that
would have required the special commissioners in a condemnation case to
consider loss of access when determining compensation for the
landowners. However, according to TSCRA, the amendment applied only to
state highway projects. It would not have affected county or city road
During the legislative session, the Texas Department of Transportation
argued the amendment would result in up to $1 billion in additional
costs, but TSCRA says the agency offered no data to support the claim.
Prior to a 1993 decision by the Texas Supreme Court, landowners were
compensated for diminished access, says Ed Small, TSCRA legal counsel.
"The state treasury didn't go bankrupt prior to 1993 because of this and
it wouldn't go bankrupt if this bill were to become law."
"We're extremely disappointed that in this state, it is apparently
acceptable for the government to take people's property without paying
them for their damage," says TSCRA President Jon Means.
-- Burt Rutherford
The June 15 article, "MARC Releases 2007 Across-Breed EPD
Calculations," had a mistake in the example listed in the fourth
paragraph. You can read the entire corrected article at: beef-mag.com/cowcalfweekly/marc-releases-across-breed/index.html,
but the article should have read:
"For example, suppose a Simmental bull has a weaning weight EPD of + 25
lbs. (which is slightly below the average of 32.9 lbs. for Simmental
cattle born in 2005) and a Gelbvieh bull has a weaning weight EPD of +45
lbs. (which is slightly above the average of 41 lbs. for Gelbvieh cattle
born in 2005). The across-breed adjustment factors for weaning weight
(see table) are 24.4 lbs. for Simmental and 7 lbs. for Gelbvieh. The
AB-EPD is 25 lbs. + 24.4 lbs. = 49.4 lbs. for the Simmental bull and 45
lbs. + 7 lbs. = 52 lbs. for the Gelbvieh bull. The expected weaning
weight difference when both are mated to cows of another breed (e.g.,
Angus) would be 49.4 lbs - 52 lbs. = -2.6 lbs."
For more info on the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center's across-breed
EPDs, contact Larry Kuehn at 402-762-4352 or email@example.com,
or Mark Thallman at 402-762-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Joe Roybal
What they don't teach you in AniSci 101.
The Charolais-influence in your crossbreeding program adds an
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predictability. Charolais-influence adds value in virtually every
segment in the U.S. beef industry.
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An important drought-management strategy is early pregnancy
diagnosis, says John B. Hall, Virginia Tech Extension beef cattle
specialist. Within 30-45 days of the end of the breeding season,
veterinarians can diagnose pregnancy in the herd. In fact, veterinarians
skilled in the use of ultrasound can diagnose pregnancies as early as
25-28 days post breeding.
Identifying and culling non-pregnant females in midsummer rather than
fall will reduce the overall feed requirements of the herd, Hall says.
This reduces pressure on pastures and improves pasture quality and
reserves feed for the most productive cows.
The cost of pregnancy diagnosis varies according to the veterinarian,
distance to the farm, and the number of cattle to be checked, but
usually the cost is $3-$12/cow, with ultrasound diagnosis being the most
expensive. Combining pregnancy diagnosis with mid-summer cattle working
can spread the cost of a farm call over more head, thus reducing the
cost per animal.
-- Ohio State University Beef Cattle Letter
The Senate Finance Committee unveiled a package of energy tax
incentives to promote the development of clean and green power,
alternative vehicles and biofuels, and the responsible use of coal. The
key biofuels provisions include:
Establishes a new tax credit for the production of cellulosic ethanol,
offering $1.11/gal. for the first 60 million gals./year of production
and up to 1 billion gals. for the duration of the incentive.
The Senate is
voting on this bill and a number of amendments this week. More details
- Extends through 2010 the $1/gal. biodiesel credit (produced from
soy, camelina, and other plant materials) with no limit for a single
- Extends through 2010 the $1/gal. renewable diesel (which may include
materials such as chicken fat) credit, up to 60 million gals.
- Extends through 2012 the 30 % credit (up to $30,000) for installing
E-85 alternative energy fueling stations that can service flex-fuel cars
running on 85% ethanol fuel.
- Extends through 2012 the small producers credit (those with annual
capacity of 60-million gals. or less) for biodiesel and ethanol, which
provides a 10¢/gal. credit on the first 15 million gals. of
- Extends the tariff on imported ethanol through Dec. 31, 2010.
- Modifies the ethanol tax credit. The proposal would reduce the
51¢/gal. tax credit for ethanol by 5¢ beginning the first
calendar year after the year in which 7.5 billion gals. of ethanol
(including cellulosic ethanol) has been produced.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation to increase the
production of biodiesel to 1.25 billion gals. in 2012. Durbin said,
"Biodiesel is a fuel that holds great promise in terms of moving our
country toward energy independence. While in its infancy, the biodiesel
industry has seen tremendous growth due to the high cost of oil. This
bill will create incentives for producers and consumers alike and will
allow this important alternative fuel source the chance to become a
mainstream alternative to foreign oil." The bill creates the following
biodiesel fuel standards.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent
- Minimum percentage: Included in the requirement is a minimum
amount reserved for biodiesel, where at least 80% of the mandate will be
- EPA registration: In order to be introduced into commerce, all fuel
-- either "biodiesel" or "bio-based diesel replacement" fuel -- is
required to be registered through EPA pursuant to the Clean Air Act, and
must have an appropriate ASTM standard.
- After 2012: The administrator of EPA, in consultation with the
secretaries of Agriculture and Energy will determine the appropriate
amount in 2013 and each year thereafter.
- Waiver authority: The administrator of EPA, in consultation with the
secretaries of Agriculture and Energy, would have the ability to waive
the standard in cases of market disruptions.
During consideration of the commodities title of the farm bill, the
House Ag General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee voted
this week to extend the current commodities programs.
Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), chairman of the House Ag Committee said,
"The proposals approved today by the Subcommittee on General Farm
Commodities and Risk Management reflect the message we heard loud and
clear from farmers and ranchers nationwide -- the structure of the 2002
Farm Bill works for them. We will continue to develop proposals on
rebalancing and reform in farm programs that will build on this good
foundation as we move forward. The Agriculture Committee has a tough job
ahead, but I am committed to continuing a process that is open and
allows for a complete debate of all the important issues involved in
writing a farm bill."
USDA Secretary Mike Johanns said, "I am disappointed in the Title I
legislation put forth today by the House Subcommittee on General Farm
Commodities and Risk Management. The bill fails to recognize the need
for greater equity and predictability in farm policy, and does nothing
to provide a more responsive safety net. Having said that, I am
encouraged by the signal from subcommittee members that this is only a
starting point and I'm gratified by the kind and thoughtful comments
offered by several members regarding the Administration's proposal. I
will not waste a moment in responding to the interest expressed in
adopting some of our ideas as part of the full committee mark up."
We can expect modifications to the subcommittee's proposal when the full
House Agriculture Committee takes up the farm bill after the July 4th
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C.
USDA announced nominations for local Farm Service Agency (FSA)
county committees will continue through Aug. 1. To become a nominee,
eligible individuals must sign form FSA-669A. The form and other
information about FSA county committee elections are available at: www.fsa.usda.gov; click on News &
Events, then County Committee Elections. Nomination forms for the 2007
election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center
by close of business on Aug. 1.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C.
For the fourth consecutive week, the U.S. average retail price for
regular gasoline decreased, falling 6.7¢ to $3.009/gal., as of June
18. Prices are 13.8¢ higher than this time last year. Meanwhile,
retail diesel rose this week, climbing 1.3¢ to $2.805/gal., or
11¢ lower than at this time last year.
All regions reported price decreases for gasoline, with the largest
regional decrease in the Midwest, where prices fell 8.9¢ to $2.984.
East Coast prices fell 4.6¢ to $2.976, while the Gulf Coast
decreased 5.9¢ to $2.903, and the Rocky Mountain region fell
4.4¢ to $3.181 -- 33.8¢/gal. above last year's price. West
Coast prices were down 7.7¢ to $3.188, and the average price for
regular grade in California was down 8.4¢ to $3.236.
For diesel, East Coast prices were up 1.1¢ to $2.80, while the
Midwest rose by 2.1¢ to $2.774, and the Gulf Coast inched up
1.1¢ to $2.753. The Rocky Mountain region fell 3¢ to $2.907,
and the West Coast rose 1.7¢ to $2.958. The California prices were
up 3.6¢ to $3.033, which is 15.2¢ lower than at this time last
-- Energy Information Administration
Registration is open for the third Hereford Young Guns Conference,
Aug. 22-24, at Harrah's North Kansas City Hotel and Casino. Register
online at www.herefordyoungguns.com.
Designed for producers ages 22-45, the conference is a great venue for
producers to network, socialize and learn from each other, says Craig
Huffines, American Hereford Association executive vice president. Look
for more info at www.herefordyoungguns.com.
-- American Hereford Association
Consistent rainfall throughout North Dakota has broken a 78-month
drought that began at the end of 2000 in North Dakota and continued
until mid-June 2007, says state climatologist Adnan Akyuz. The most
severe drought occurred during the third week of July 2006, when 100% of
the state was experiencing at least moderate drought status on the
drought monitor scale, says the North Dakota State University assistant
professor of climatology.
This year, North Dakota experienced its 10th wettest spring and sixth
wettest May since climatic recordkeeping began in 1895. In fact, since
Jan. 1, 2007, Fargo has received 13.99 in. of precipitation, which is
5.98 in. above normal.
-- NDSU news release
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation's Ag Division hosts its annual
Estate Planning Seminar on June 28 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) at the Southern
Oklahoma Technology Center in Ardmore. The seminar is designed to help
ranchers and farmers learn the best techniques to manage the various
assets that make up their estates, including real estate, livestock,
machinery and cash investments. The seminar is $10, which includes
lunch. Call 580-224-6501 or visit www.noble.org/agevents for
-- Noble Foundation release
Kansas State University will host its first-ever conference on
adding value to calves this August. The two-day conference, Aug. 9-10 in
Manhattan, includes presentations on how beef producers can become more
efficient and get the most profit from their business. Registration is
$150 and is due by Aug. 3. For more info, visit www.asi.ksu.edu/beefconference
or call 785-532-1281.
-- KSU release
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